Coke’s Got Game in China

NEW YORK Coca-Cola’s branded online operation in China, known as iCoke, has signed an agreement with global gaming community GGL to host tournaments in cybercafes across that nation and on the soft drink marketer’s Web site.

This is a first-of-its-kind deal for China in terms of reach and coverage for this type of competition. It covers over 15 provinces, 100 cities and 4,000 cybercafes.

“Of all the online gaming communities with whom iCoke could have partnered, GGL is by far the most recognized in the world and China. Also, it already has the existing expertise and infrastructure in place to promote and support live online gaming tournaments totaling hundreds of thousands of players,” said Kyong Kon Ko, director of e-marketing at Coke’s China division, in a statement.

The deal is intended to reinforce the brand in a market with one of the world’s largest and fastest growing gaming populations.

GGL gains instant branding in the cybercafes alongside Coke in addition to a hot button installed on the iCoke portal for one year. Branding includes in-cafe promotional materials, Web initiatives and billboards. The winner of the iCoke tournaments will be flown to New York to compete in the 2007 Digital Life gaming tournament, which will take place Sept. 27-30.

“Gaming is a culture now. It’s the MTV of the new generation,” said Ted Owen, chairman and co-founder of GGL.

GGL will host regional online tournaments on the iCoke site, which, to date, has more than 29 million registered users.

There will also be a post-tournament phase in which the iCoke-GGL Gamezone will evolve into an extensive gaming community that GGL will manage.

“The Gamezone will include video gaming content created by GGL, such as exclusive videos from GGL’s Hip-Hop Gaming League and the online gaming technologies. GGL’s global video-gaming tournaments will also be offered to the online gaming fans, of which they can take part,” said Frank Yong, CEO of GGL China.

GGL’s Owen said there are plans to roll out the initiative with Coke in other countries, including Brazil, Japan and Korea and eventually the U.S. and Western Europe. Entry into some of those countries will start later this year.